Hi Everyone. Building on my last blog about lines in images (November 10, 2017 “Leading Lines”), this week I thought I would show you how composition and lines really work hand in hand. There is no doubt that there are shots which probably will not have any apparent lines to follow but if you look, you will find them!
When composing a shot, whether it is a portrait or a simple landscape, its always important to double-check what you see in the viewfinder. As mentioned in previous blogs, with practice it will become second nature. Watch for things cut off by the edge of the frame or something sticking out of your subject’s head that shouldn’t be there! Although the latter might be funny at first, the subject might not think so later. Now, if that was your intent, to have a tree growing out of their head well…great!
The images I have below are from my backyard garden. I love shooting with natural light and really enjoy capturing it at all angles when I can. Today, I want to show you how to create a story with your image without words. The title of these images is Garden Cop. My thought process was to capture this little figure peeking out from the flowerbed. I wanted the viewer to get the sense that this little guy was looking out for the flowers and was working his beat, doing his duty.
Although the image does have something of the rule of thirds on an angle (upper right corner empty, bottom left filled with flowers, and center angle with the subject matter) drawing the eye to the little officer, the greenery is going every which way. It just does not feel balanced. The lines of the greenery really don’t point to any one thing. Not a terrible image but could use some improvement.
So, I changed my position and focused on the statue’s face. As you can see, the green lines now frame the face pretty good but are such a distraction that its difficult to really determine what I was aiming at with the image. Yes, I wanted to focus on the cute face, but all the greenery pulls the eye to the unfocused forefront of the image. Way too busy. The face looks so small in the image that the story gets lost. It’s just a shot of a statue in a garden. …Kind of dull, to my way of thinking.
My final product is what I was looking for in an image. By slightly changing my position from the front of the statue, focusing on the face, and watching the green “lines”, I captured this little copper on his beat in the garden. As you look at it, the left side is not longer so thick with a mishmash of lines and they are now in a soft focus. The wall on the right is slightly darker in the shade, and my copper has enough sunlight to draw attention to him. Although the face is in shadow, it looks natural. As you can see, I framed his upper body with the greenery so the viewer is focused on the statue.
In the end, I had to really look for the image lines, make sure they helped to focus the eye on my subject, and move around until I had the right composition to tell my story. Did it work?
Everyone takes pictures today. Everywhere you are, you can see someone snapping off a shot. What makes one image stand out against another is the composition. Did the photographer clearly identify the subject matter? Is it in focus? Are there distracting lines disrupting the flow of the image? When you look through your viewfinder, ask yourself this…”What is it that I want my viewer to feel and see?” “How can I help him or her focus on what I want them to feel and see?” “How can I take this average shot and make it into something wonderful?” If you ask these questions of yourself before you take that shot, you are on the road to a great composition. One that will take their breathe away and have them asking you “how did you do that?” Have a great day and have fun with your camera!